Meet Dalila Caryn.
Dalila Caryn is the author of The Forgotten Sister, the first book in the Forgotten Sister series. She holds a bachelor degree in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. Her love of poetry and epic fantasies influenced her unique writing style. Like her protagonist Rowan she is a fierce protector for her three siblings. Family provides her with constant inspiration for creating genuine stories of love and redemption. In her free time she can be found in corners reading, drinking coffee and writing new worlds to explore.
Social media links
personal website: dalilacaryn.com
Onto the interview!
What made you want pick and then decide to tackle a retelling of Sleeping Beauty in such a unique way?
I tend to write in order to answer a question or try and understand a particular situation, and with The Forgotten Sister series I was trying to understand aspects of the Sleeping Beauty story that never sat well with me. Both with the Disney version and the two Grimm tales that were combined to make that story, there were little things that always pulled me out of the narrative: Why would someone, even someone evil curse a baby to die, in sixteen years, just because they’d been snubbed at a party? It didn’t make sense it seemed far too personal a revenge for so little an offense. And I couldn’t relate to Aurora’s family, they destroy the spindles, hide their child (in the Disney version) and just assume all is well; it didn’t fit for me. I couldn’t imagine myself feeling safe in their shoes until I knew for certain the curse would never fall. So for me it wasn’t so much about retelling or reinventing the story as it was trying to make sense of the world, and give myself a way to believe the narrative.
Did you find it easier to not write in Aurora’s perspective and instead have an outsider take on the fairy tale?
Well with the side of the story I was trying to write it did require someone who wasn’t in the original narrative to open the doors, but in truth I never even considered writing the story from Aurora’s, or in my version Roisin’s perspective because I never considered it her story. To me Sleeping Beauty always seemed to be Phillip’s story, a boy becoming a man. He is present to witness this horrible atrocity, but grows up wanting nothing to do with the princess he’s destined to marry, enter Aurora a beautiful woman living an idyllic life that he covets, and its only once he has lost her and realizes who she is that he moves beyond boyishness and finds the strength to rescue her. Aurora seemed to me to be the impetus behind Phillip’s heroism but not the heroine herself. She is a tool of fate, in the original, just like she is in my story. Just my story is no longer Phillips. My favorite characters to write are the ones who, try at least to, steer fate. And thats what I get with Rowan, she knows what fate has in store for her sister and she is determined to change it. But having said all of that, I do write a little from Aurora/Roisin’s perspective as the series progresses so that readers can see which style of taking on life they prefer.
“The Forgotten Sister is a sweeping story of family, heroism, and the magical powers that can save, or destroy, a kingdom.” Did any aspects of the story, of the ones listed above, threaten to overpower the other aspects? If yes, how did you find the balance as you wrote and later finished editing your novel? If not, how did you incorporate all these aspects into a plot without overwhelming yourself?
That is a very interesting question. I suppose family is in fact the most powerful external force in the story, so if one of those aspects were to overwhelm the others it would be that. Its sort of like a magnet isn’t it, no matter how far towards a magical tale or a heroes journey story it tends family dynamics and family love pull Rowan back in. But family can be like that I think, you can grow up and move away, but come back together and the same rivalries and comforts bubble up and your the person you were as a child again. But even though I think family is one of the strongest forces in the story I don’t think it overpowers it. Finding the balance in the story is such an appropriate phrase because balance is really what Rowan struggles with most, finding a balance between being a daughter, a sister, and a friend, finding a way to balance being part fairy, and wanting to be a knight. She has to balance all these parts of her life, and quite honestly letting her lead the narrative was how I found the balance myself. Its only when I try to force the story one way or another that something wonky happened and I had to go back and fix it. Which meant letting the story sometimes tilt more towards magic, or more towards family, knowing it would tilt back the other way when it was ready to. And as I revised it was a matter of forcing myself to read from the perspective of someone who didn’t know any of Rowan’s life (which is so much harder to do than to say) so that I could see which areas of the narrative needed to be flushed out more. I hope I was successful.
Is Rowan or Roisin based on anyone you know in real life? If no, is anything (scene, clothing, minor character) based on a real life person, place, or experience?
No neither Rowan or Roisin are based on any one person in my life, however their bond, and a lot of the familial bonds in the story are based on my own experiences. I have a very tight knit family and I constantly use them for inspiration. If there were any characters in my story that found their impetus in reality it would probably be Ferdy, Keagan and Petal. They aren’t perfect representations, but their dynamic and some of their more dominant characteristics are based on myself and my two sisters. My youngest sister would be the Petal, sweet, sly, mischievous and brilliant—“everybody’s favorite child” we like to tease her with that bit of song from The Fiddler on the Roof, not that she minds. My older sister, like Ferdy, is so active and playful, and enthusiastic that she can get underestimated and very frequently lectured but she has a secret genius. And I tend a bit more towards the quiet, intense, occasionally know-it-all Keagan.
What is the main thing you want readers to learn and take away from The Forgotten Sister?
I really hope my readers come away from The Forgotten Sister with a sense that they can take charge of their own fate, not just to change their circumstances but to change the way they relate to them. Because I truly think the most powerful, life changing thing you can ever do is find a way to love and accept yourself, faults and all, and no matter what others think of you. I hope witnessing Rowan’s journey inspires my readers to make their own.
Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers today?
Well first off I want to thank you for the opportunity to do this interview. These were some really interesting questions that let me reexamine my writing in a fun way, so thank you. But also I want to let everyone know that volume two in the Forgotten Sister series, Future Queen, is due out shortly. It is still very much Rowan’s story but I do love to examine things from several angles so I have introduced some additional perspectives. I hope everyone gets a chance to check it out. Thank you!